Waterford-based Sun Life Financial recognises IT talent at WIT


Sun Life has a long standing relationship with WIT; 60% of its workforce have studied on undergraduate or postgraduate courses at WIT at some point

Sun Life established the two awards five years ago to encourage and recognise innovation and commercial awareness among the final year computing students in WIT. 2016 marks the fifth consecutive year, Sun Life Financial has collaborated with WIT to recognise innovation and enterprise skills among computing students.

Two outstanding BSc (Hons) in Applied Computing students picked up the annual awards. The Innovation Award for a project that demonstrated uniqueness went to Thomas Jackman from Waterford for his project “Drive: The Open Car Network” and the Enterprise Award for a project that demonstrated commercial potential went to Kamil Mech from Poland for his project “Mind in Motion”.

Competition for the two awards was fierce with a number of projects submitted from a pool of final year honours undergraduate projects with 10 finalists invited to showcase their projects at an exhibition at Sun Life’s office in Waterford.

Waterford-based Sun Life Financial is the leading IT employer in the South East where approximately 300 IT professionals provide technology solutions for Sun Life's US employee benefits business and technical solutions for its global workforce. Having started in 1997 with a brief to supplement technology teams in the US and Canada, the addition of high calibre IT professionals has allowed the Ireland team to evolve and become a technology cornerstone servicing Sun Life's clients.

“The growth and evolution of the Sun Life office in Waterford is primarily down to one thing - our ability to attract, grow and retain talented IT professionals. Therefore, over the years, we have developed a strategic relationship with Waterford Institute of Technology to help us on this journey - and they have been a fantastic partner,” explained Karen Burns, General Manager of Sun Life Ireland and AVP of Human Resources.

“Not only do WIT produce world class IT graduates every year but we have collaborated with them to develop two Masters programmes and a Higher Diploma in BSA to afford our existing team the opportunity to upskill in the rapidly changing world of technology. So these awards are just a small way that we can give something back to WIT and their students,” Burns added.

The most impressive projects are short-listed, evaluated by a cross functional team of leaders from Sun Life before awarding the Innovation award and the Enterprise award to the two most deserving. 

Speaking at the awards ceremony Dr Michael Harrison, Head of the School of Science and Computing in WIT, acknowledged that selecting two winners cannot have been an easy task. “Year after year we are delighted with the talent we see in our IT students, they continue to impress us and make us proud of the work they produce - and they should be proud of themselves too,” Dr Harrison commented.

“We are also delighted by the partnership with Sun Life. We see it as a very important part of our mission to be aligned with local business and this partnership is a great example of that,” Dr Harrison added.

Visiting from the US for the event David Healy, Senior Vice President of Client and Technology Services, added his appreciation for the partnership with WIT. “It is great that WIT see working with business as part of their mission. We know from our experiences in other locations that this is not always the case in academia, so I give huge credit to Professor Willie Donnelly (President of WIT), Dr Harrison and their team for this collaboration.”

Mr Healy went on to praise the skill and expertise demonstrated by the projects submitted, he joked that in addition to giving the final year students an opportunity to showcase their work during the award ceremony in Sun Life, “it also keeps our team on their toes and generates new ideas for our work here,” he added.

Outside of these awards, Sun Life has a long standing relationship with the institute with 60% of the workforce having studied on undergraduate or postgraduate courses at some point in their career.

The successful finalists were: Glen Keane, Tom Jackman, Aiden Keating, Kamil Mech - BSc (Hons) in Applied Computing; Chris Maher, Laura Fitzgerald, Yue Zhu - BSc (Hons) Software Systems Development; Ryan Stubbs - BSc(Hons) in Entertainment Systems; Robert O'Brien and Gemma Hinton - BSc (Hons) Information Technology.

WIT’s School of Science and Computing 

WIT’s School of Science and Computing offers a wide range of Level 7 and 8 computing courses including the new BSc (Hons) in the Internet of Things. Last year WIT invested a six figure sum into new labs and facilities using a portion of the dividends WIT earned from the sale of the spin out of TSSG spin-out company FeedHenry which sold in 2014 for €63.5m. 

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